By: Fritz Parker
Back in April, the White House released a public service announcement in conjunction with their new 1 is 2 Many campaign to prevent sexual violence. The video – which features Vice President Joe Biden alongside some recognizable celebrity faces – immediately went viral, receiving an unprecedented amount of positive support from the online community.
The PSA hits all the right notes, tasking men with questioning the culture of violence and victim blaming that they see around them, while specifically targeting the groups who need the message most: teens and college students.
But a 60-second video clip only means so much. Just 48 hours after the PSA hit the web, the Department of Education officially published a report listing 55 colleges and universities with open Title IX sexual-assault investigations. The report is a sobering indication that the PSA’s goals are far from realized, and a reminder of why it was needed in the first place.
These two events provide a great snapshot of where we are as a society in terms of preventing sexual assault – which is to say not where we should be. But they also show that the cause of prevention is continuing to gain traction in all kinds of places where it is so badly needed.
The White House realizes that the way to create real, sustainable change is to reach young people, and that there are few better forums for that than online. Celebrities like Daniel Craig, Steve Carrell and Benicio del Toro aren’t going to prevent sexual assault, but they can start to influence the social standards that young people in our culture face, and to help weave the message of assault prevention into those standards. The web’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to the PSA shows that the message isn’t only needed anymore, it’s actually welcome.